On Monday, June 24, 2024, Matthew Tassone filed a writ of habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court of Ohio alleging unlawful detention and violation of his constitutional rights by Judge Jessica D’Varga in Franklin County Municipal Court.

According to Tassone’s petition, the issues began in March when he was nearly killed in a car accident allegedly caused by another driver running a red light. A few days later, Tassone received a complaint charging him with disorderly conduct for reportedly using offensive language towards the other driver. Tassone argues the charge was improper and brought by a biased police officer with connections to those involved in the incident.

At Tassone’s arraignment on April 26th, Judge D’Varga granted a motion by Tassone’s public defender to withdraw from the case. When Tassone attempted to explain the reasons for the breakdown in communication, Judge D’Varga became hostile and confrontational. She then ordered Tassone to be taken into custody, despite his claims of serious physical disabilities and need for medical care. Tassone alleges the judge’s actions amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

While detained, Tassone had to be taken to the hospital for a hypertensive crisis brought on by the stress of the situation and the lack of his normal medications. After being released on bond with the help of friends, Tassone continued to have issues with Judge D’Varga setting an excessive $10,000 bond, in violation of local rules for misdemeanors. He argues the high bond was meant to punish and intimidate rather than based on legitimate reasons.

In his habeas petition, Tassone claims Judge D’Varga violated his constitutional rights to counsel, due process, and protection from cruel punishment. He is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to intervene on the grounds that he has been unlawfully detained.

Judge D’Varga received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Dayton and her law degree from Ohio State University. She previously worked in private criminal defense practice for over 10 years, serving on the board of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and publishing articles on criminal law topics, before being appointed to the bench of the Franklin County Municipal Court in 2020.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.